New Zealand Law Society - The 81st Devils' Own Golf Tournament

The 81st Devils' Own Golf Tournament

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It is well known that the Devil’s Own Golf Tournament is the single most compelling basis for seeking the adjournment of any proceeding in New Zealand courts in late September. Why is this so?

The reason lies in history – 80 years of history to be precise. And this year, the tournament will be run for the 81st time from 25 to 27 September.

“The DO”, as it is affectionately known, has been held every year in Palmerston North since 1932. It is held at the picturesque Hokowhitu Golf club.

This year DO runs over three days, with golf (largely handicap-based match play) in the day and social events in the evenings. Those who have attended know that the DO is as famous for its social offerings as it is for golf. There is a formal dinner, card schools, a Calcutta, billiards, and occasionally even some very poor dancing. Speeches at the DO are often comic gold, and the keynotes are a much anticipated part of the weekend.

Experienced golfers enjoy the competitive flavour of the tournament, and the high quality course. Less skilled golfers are also very welcome at the DO. There has been a winner of the tournament who played off a 31. And, for the true hackers, there is a “league of their own” (neatly positioned so as not to hold the rest of the field up), called “the Tally Ho”, where high scores are celebrated. Two years ago, one player hit 211. He did it at a shot a ball, in just a single afternoon session, and earned favourable comparisons to Brendon McCullum.

The DO’s greatest strength is its long tradition of camaraderie and friendliness. Judges and senior practitioners trade banter and tips with wide-eyed junior solicitors; pasty tax lawyers from Parnell laugh into their beers with brawny rural general practitioners in ancient brown suits. Many attendees started coming after they left university, and haven’t stopped coming ever since, some for 40 years or more. Friendships at the DO are made and kept, often for life.

The DO is not a closed club. New attendees are made particularly welcome. Nor is the DO a fusty male preserve. It has been won more than once by women golfers, and at least a small band of women are regular attendees.

Entries are now open at There are entry categories to suit everyone from die hard golfing fanatics, to those who just want to learn the game.

Lester Hermine is not an actual person, but the “persona” for a number of people involved with the DO.

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